TALLADEGA, AL – When the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs come to Talladega Superspeedway for the fred’s 250 Powered by Coca-Cola on Saturday, Oct. 14, one could say that Johnny Sauter will have a distinct advantage. He is the only driver – out of the eight who have qualified for the playoffs – that knows the way to the track’s Gatorade Victory Lane.
In fact, Sauter, the reigning 2016 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) champion, along with two-time series champ Matt Crafton, are the only playoff contenders who have more than two NCWTS starts at the biggest and baddest track on the planet. Could experience be the deciding factor as to who will end up in the winner’s circle for the elimination playoff race that will see the field of title contenders be trimmed from eight to six at the checkered flag?
The series regular season champion, Christopher Bell, along with John Hunter Nemechek will make their third Talladega start, while Austin Cindric and Ben Rhodes will tackle the 2.66-mile venue for just the second time. For Chase Briscoe and Kaz Grala, it will be their initial start in the NCWTS on the 33-degree banking. The experience vs. youth field is set.
The opening races in the NCWTS playoffs are set for New Hampshire (Sept. 23) and Las Vegas (Sept. 30) before heading toTalladega. Below are thumbnails on each driver vying for the title, along with their seeding/starting playoff points and resume at Talladega Superspeedway (TSS).
- Christopher Bell, No. 4 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota (2,040 points/2nd playoff appearance): Bell has made two NCWTS starts at TSS with a best finish of sixth in last fall’s event. He has four wins this season and six for his truck career. Average Talladega finish is 9.5.
- Johnny Sauter, No. 21 GMS Racing Chevrolet (2,025 points /2nd playoff appearance): His victory at Talladega came in 2013. He has made eight starts at TSS and has finished in the top-five on three occasions. Sauter has one win thus far in 2017. Average Talladega finish is 10.0.
- John Hunter Nemechek, No. 8 NEMCO Motorsports Chevrolet (2,014 points/2nd playoff appearance): The son of two-time Talladega NASCAR XFINITY Series winner Joe Nemechek, John Hunter’s best Talladega finish came in his inaugural start in 2015 when he finished 11th. He has two wins this season. Average TSS finish is 21.5.
- Matt Crafton, No. 88 ThorSport Racing Toyota (2,014 points/2nd playoff appearance): He is the only playoff driver to compete in all 11 NCWTS events held at Talladega, but has just one top-five finish, along with three top-10s. He had a career-best of fourth in 2010. Talladega has been the two-time NCWTS champion’s worst-finishing venue among playoff facilities with average finish of 16.7. He has one victory this season.
- Chase Briscoe, No. 29 Brad Keselowski Racing Ford (2,009 points/1st playoff appearance): While the rookie has not yet competed on the high banks of TSS in the NCWTS, he did, however, finish third in the 2016 General Tire 200 ARCARacing Series event at Talladega. In his first truck series season, he has recorded six top-fives and 10 top-10s.
- Austin Cindric, No. 19 Brad Keselowski Racing Ford (2,007 points/1st playoff appearance): He has one career TSS start, which came in last year’s fred’s 250 Powered by Coca-Cola event, where he finished 20th. Earlier this month, he captured his first career NCWTS win. Cindric has recorded four top-fives and nine top-10 finishes this season.
- Ben Rhodes, No. 27 ThorSport Racing Toyota (2,007 points/1st playoff appearance): Rhodes competed in last fall’sfred’s 250 Powered by Coca-Cola, finishing 24th. In 2017, he has five top-fives, with a best finish of second at Pocono.
- Kaz Grala, No. 33 GMS Racing Chevrolet (2,005 points/1st playoff appearance): The 18-year old has one career NCWTS triumph, taking the checkered flag in the opening race of the 2017 season at Daytona, so he knows how to win on a “Super” Superspeedway. Thus far, his 2017 resume includes three top-five finishes.
The heart pounding three and-four-wide racing in the fred’s 250 Powered by Coca-Cola NCWTS playoff race is set to getunderway at 12 noon (CDT) on Saturday, Oct. 14. The following day at 1 pm. (CDT), the Alabama 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) race gets the green flag. Six-time Talladega winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. will make his final start at the track he calls “a second home,” and the event will be the “Wildcard” second race in the Round of 12 for NASCAR’s MENCS playoffs.
For more information or to purchase tickets visit www.talladegasuperspeedway.com or call 855-518-RACE (7223).
About Talladega Superspeedway
Talladega Superspeedway is NASCAR’s Most Competitive (record of 88 lead changes in 188 laps), highest banked (33 degrees), and longest track (2.66-miles), as well as the most fun and fan-friendly. Talladega offers something for everyone, including hundreds of acres of free camping, amazing kids ticket and college student prices, along with special offers for military members and first responders. The historic venue, built in 1969, is deemed NASCAR’s “Party Capital” thanks to the track’s infamous infield, which features the traditional Saturday Night Concert (featuring Colt Ford Powered by American Ethanol) and the world-renowned Talladega Blvd, home of the Friday night “Big One on the Blvd” party. It’s the site of the most comfortable seats in motorsports, large ISM Vision HD video viewing boards that line the frontstretch and endless pre-race activities for fans on race day, including special kid’s VIP opportunities. Talladega Superspeedway’s next NASCAR weekend is set for October 13-15, featuring the fred’s 250 Powered by Coca-Cola NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) race Sat. Oct. 14 – the final race in the Round of 8 in the NCWTS Playoffs where the field of eligible title contenders will be trimmed from eight to six. The weekend’s anchor is onSun. Oct. 15 with the Alabama 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) event, the second race in the Round of 12 during the MENCS Playoffs. For more details and ticket information simply log on to www.talladegasuperspeedway.